Published Date: Oct 14, 2019
The speakers Monday said simple handwashing habit after critical activities can help reduce significant hospital visits.
These remarks were made at a seminar on "Global Handwashing Day 2019: Clean Hands for All" organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Executive Director of SDPI Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said handwashing had multiple effects on our health and system whereas this year’s theme was directly linked to our food and hygiene practices.
"Lack of handwashing makes the communities vulnerable including both with better food available and others facing food scarcity alike," he added Dr Suleri said regular hand washing could help reduce the country’s health budget as a single individual can reduce diseases causing serious illness among the masses.
However, the panelists during the panel discussion unanimously emphasized the role of media in highlighting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices at the grass root level alongwith the relevant stakeholders involved in the process.
United Nations’ International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Chief of WASH Theodoros Mulugeta said at least 1200 schools with poor performance in WASH sector were purposefully selected to be established with proper WASH and handwashing facilities.
These schools, he said would serve as a model for the rest of the schools across the country to practice best and implemented strategies in this regard.
He admitted that there were poor handwashing facilities in healthcare set ups at public and private level. "Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan Movement (CGPM) which is a flagship project of the government is providing relevant platform to all stakeholders to scale up efforts for handwashing practice at the basic level," he added.
The SDPI environmentalist Dr Imran Saqib Khalid said the World Bank report ‘When Water Becomes A Hazard’ had highlighted grave impacts of poor sanitation and hygiene resulting in the stunted growth of children due to lack of clean drinking water and hygienic practices.
The moderator of panel discussion SDPI environmentalist Maryam Shabbir quoted UNICEF estimates reporting around 53,000 child deaths below five year age every year due to diarrhea mainly caused due to poor quality water and absence handwashing at critical events.
Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Country Coordinator Tanya Khan said CGPM delineates the strong political will of the government for WASH and had mainstreamed relevant stakeholders under one platform to collaborate on WASH initiatives.